When the rain is pouring down outside, celebrate -- and keep your kids occupied -- with a rainy day picnic. Whether you are substituting an indoor picnic for a planned outdoor picnic on account of the weather or just looking for a way to liven up a gray day, take cues from the food you would serve at a regular picnic.
Fill up the stomachs of picnic guests with a healthy main dish inspired by an outdoor picnic. Sandwiches are portable, not too messy and keep well in a cooler. For a rainy-day picnic, you can safely include sandwiches with ingredients like deli turkey or egg salad that could spoil at an outdoor picnic. For example, make hearty and healthy sandwiches with whole-grain bread, chicken salad, Dijon mustard, rinsed romaine lettuce and slices of heirloom tomato. Or cook turkey dogs and lean-beef burgers on the stove top for a barbecue-style rainy day picnic.
Augment the main eats with yummy side dishes. Bring the outdoors inside with "ants on a log" -- celery sticks smeared with peanut butter and dotted with raisins. Replace the typical picnic bag of potato chips with baked chips and ranch dip, pretzels, or salsa and tortilla chips. Present a platter of cubed watermelon and cantaloupe, to be eaten with forks or toothpicks. Having your kids eat watermelon in cubes rather than wedges will prevent the drippy, watery messes that make watermelon such a suitable food for outdoor picnics.
At dessert time, pretend you're around the campfire and make s'mores. Use the microwave to slightly melt chocolate squares and marshmallows, then smash them between graham crackers. Or set out a selection of berries, like strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, and plug in a chocolate fondue fountain for dipping.
Include beverages in your rainy day picnic menu. Lemonade and limeade are easy to make from fresh-squeezed fruit and just a touch of sugar. For a healthy, satisfyingly fizzy alternative to soda, serve chilled sparkling water mixed with fruit juice. If the weather is chilly and rainy, serve homemade hot chocolate made with milk for extra calcium. Ladle the hot chocolate into single-serving insulated bottles, like the ones that often go with kids' lunch boxes, so you can control portion sizes and preserve the on-the-go picnic feeling.
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